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Top honors for Slack, DeVries

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NMHU Sports Information

Following a season of increasingly loftier heights for the program, the New Mexico Highlands University women’s track and field coach and one of his top athletes have reaped some major regional honors.

Junior Salcia Slack was named South Central Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year while head coach Bob DeVries was named the Region Women’s Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Previously, Slack and DeVries had earned Field Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year recognition from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, one of the most competitive leagues in the nation in the sport.

“To win both conference and region Coach of the Year is a huge accomplishment for not just these individuals, but for the whole Cowgirls track and field athletic program,” said Jim Deisler, interim athletic director at Highlands. “There is not a more deserving coach of this honor. And what Slack has been able to accomplish this season is truly remarkable.”

Slack, a junior from Kingston, Jamaica, broke the Division II heptathlon record at the RMAC Championships with a score of 5,833 points as part of a phenomenal weekend that saw her score 54 points for her team. She also won the javelin, the 100-meter hurdles, and the triple jump, finished runner-up in the long jump and fifth in the shot put. She also ran a leg of the runner-up 1,600-meter relay.

Slack qualified for nationals in the heptathlon, long jump, triple jump and shot put.

“Salcia has quickly established herself as one of the top athletes in Division II,” DeVries said. “I had one longtime RMAC coach tell me ‘She is the best athlete I have ever seen in this conference.’ High praise and well deserved.”

DeVries, in his 22nd year with Highlands, was named RMAC Women’s Coach of the Year after helping the Cowgirls finish second in the RMAC Championships with a school-record 170 points. He also oversaw Highlands’ rise to ninth in the country, its best outdoor school ranking in program history.

Two different athletes for the Cowgirls led the nation in their respective events going into nationals. Besides the aforementioned Slack, freshman Shanice McPherson — who looks to complete the indoor-outdoor sweep — led the nation in the long jump with a mark of 20-3 (6.17 meters).

Slack and McPherson both have earned national recognition as USTFCCCA Female Athlete of the Week on May 12 and Jan. 27, respectively.

In total, Highlands placed 11 entries in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which concluded Saturday in Allendale, Mich. Please see Wednesday’s Optic for coverage.